Theodore Annemann

A Short Biographical Note by Peter Warlock.

Just as there are legions of names in Magic which seem so ordinary and commonplace, there are others which seem to breathe Magic in their pronouncement; Devant is such a name and Annemann is another. It is a name too that stands for good things in Magic. Magicians on this side of the Atlantic (and possibly on the other side too) have become wary of the attractiveness of American magical advertising, but the name of Annemann stands high for the reason that when he sells he offers in most cases more than value lor money.

It may come as a surprise to many readers of the Circular, that Anneinann's age is only 31, the cause of the surprise being that he has accomplished so much in so short a time. Hejs a New Yorker by birth, and his first introduction to magic was at school, a chum showing him the ball and vase; it mystified him so much that after learning the secret he sold newspapers in order to obtain the necessary pennies to buy more effects from the local magical dealer. In a recent letter he mentions that he not only still has a colour-change pull_ which he bought at that time, but that the handkerchiefs supplied were of different sizes. 1921 saw him buying a 1.25 set of magic from A. C. Gilbert, a novelty dealer, and the following year saw his first purchase of The Sphinx. The virus was now in full action, and in that same year, 1922, he started corresponding with contributors to The Sphinx. Strange to relate he saw a magical show for the first time in 1923 ; it was that of Eugene Laurant.

To those who possess a copy of Max Holden's Programmes of Famous Magicians, let them turn to the programme that is given there of an entertainment by Annemann, and then compare those effects with these which comprised his first show :— Wine and Water, 20th Century Silks, Colour-Changing Silks (using the afore-mentioned pull), Torn and Restored Paper, and the new Brahmin Rice Bowls

I he Wine and Water effect went wrong because of hard water from a nearby well. This brought forth the remark that he would get out of the country theatres.

From 1923 onward Annemann went steadily forward both as a performer and a writer. Readers of The Sphinx will easily call to mind the many contributions appearing under his name. In the 1925 volume of The Sphinx one of his finest card routines appeared under the title of "The Master Mind." That was thirteen years ago when he was eighteen years of age. Experience has strengthened his use of subtlety and in his later effects the psychological re-actions of the spectator are used with great adroitness to achieve the end. The following is, I believe, a full list of his books : —

202 Methods of Forcing.

Incorporated Strange Secrets.

The Book without a Name.

Mental Bargain Effects.

One Man Mental and Psychic Routine.

En Rapport.

Card and Psychic Miracles.

In every one of these books, the personality of the writer is easily discerned. His development of the use of one-way backs on cards, gives rise in many of the pages to apparent miracles, because the control of the cards seems to be with the spectator rather than with the performer.

One sentence in The Book without a Name is unforgettable : "I, personally, hate sleights because I can seldom get away with them." In that statement there is much food for thought. There must be many conjurers deluding themselves all the time that they are getting away with sleights, when the audience, possibly polite, knows better. And yet, without sleights, Annemann, in my opinion, gets better results. With the greatest respect to those who '"milk build" to perfection, it is unlikely that such experts could obtain better results than Annemann achieves with casual handling of a pack in the two effects described under the titles of "The Gambler in Person" and "The Gambler back again." (Both in The Book without a Name.)

The latter part of 1934 saw the inception ol The Jinx, a magical magazine edited by Annemann, unique, as it carrys no advertising matter; its offerings are few, but they are very, very good. The editorials are excellent, and Annemann is one of those magicians who think that all methods are fair in obtaining the desired effect, as in its sixth number he remarks, "I insist that anything goes." One has only to recall our own Jardine Ellis to realise that this policy engenders the apparent miracle.

In a letter written to Annemann this year* I asked among other questions, what he considered his finest effect, and also what was the outstanding event in his magical life. The answer to the first question was " The Test of Tiber," an effect which he has marketed since 1931, but which, strange to say, has not become popular.

He could not answer the second question so easily; he said that there were so many high spots : his first attendance at Thurston's show after a rainy trip—meeting the "Greats" at Frank Ducrot's house—seeing his first contribution published in The Sphinx. One thing that he says will be the outstanding event in his life, is when he makes a trip to England. He is fully alive to the fact that magicians here have treated his works well, and he looks forward to thanking them personally.

Regarding his best effect, I would have chosen his "One Man Genuine Magazine Test." 1 cannot call to mind in any modern magical literature, any subtlety producing so great an effect.

Even as 1 type this my wife has shewn me a cutting from the Evening News of October 12th :—

"A bullet fired from an army rifle was caught by a man forty yards away with his teeth at the Piff Paff Poofers' Annual Convention at Fort Erie, Ontario. Theodore Annemann, a New York Magician, volunteered to carry out this feat, which is said to have been fatal to half-a-do^en men who have attempted it. A policeman agreed to fire the rifle. He scratched his initials on the bullet before firing. Annemann whirled and fell to the gTound, then he got up and dropped a warm bullet from his mouth into the policeman's hand. The policeman identified it as the one he had fired. A dozen photographers filmed the episode. Before the performance they searched Annemann, looked into his mouth, and also made sure he had no confederates." What publicity! What an effect! But 1 am wondering whether this is a case in point where "Anything goes."

To those who have read Annemann's works, 1 hope that these few facts concerning the man himself may at least prove interesting. To those who are newcomers to magic and to whom, possibly, the name of Annemann is just one in a dealer's list, I hope that these words will give the incentive to beg, borrow, or buy one of his books; they will get just as big a thrill as the embryo musician gets when he learns to play his first Bach prelude Peter Warlock.

For Private Circulation only.

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